Belfast Telegraph

Failure to land Allardyce's backing leaves a big question mark over Rooney's England future

By Samuel Stevens

Sam Allardyce has refused to confirm Wayne Rooney's status as England captain, increasing the uncertainty surrounding the Manchester United forward's future for club and country.

The 61-year-old was speaking to the media for the first time since he signed a two-year contract to replace Roy Hodgson following the disastrous Euro 2016 campaign which culminated in a 2-1 defeat by Iceland in the second round.

Rooney faces an overhanging threat on two fronts as the arrival of Jose Mourinho at United - and subsequent deals to sign Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Henrikh Mkhitaryan - pose uncomfortable questions over his future role at Old Trafford.

It had been suggested that Rooney's captaincy of England was a foregone conclusion but Allardyce, speaking at St George's Park yesterday morning, has moved to deny those reports, citing the infancy of his tenure as the reason for the delay on a decision.

"I'm going to leave that until I meet all the players and get all the staff together," said Allardyce, before revealing former Bolton Wanderers, Liverpool and Southampton coach Sammy Lee has joined his backroom team.

Rooney again struggled to make an impact at a major tournament this summer in France and, at 30, will likely make his final World Cup appearance in two years if England can secure qualification to the contest in Russia.

His first chance to impress will come when Allardyce's side play Slovakia in a World Cup qualifier on September 4.

On his "pragmatic" coaching style, 'Big Sam' added: "I think that choosing styles or systems depends on the players available and then who we're playing.

"My coaching technique is to try and give the players the opportunity to win a football match wherever they are playing, be it home or away.

"And to make them aware of the opposition, which may change the style of how we play."

Allardyce has no doubt he is tough enough to deal with the challenges of the job and declared: "Bring it on."

England also failed to get out of the group at the World Cup in Brazil in 2014 and have not won a major competition since lifting the World Cup 50 years ago.

But Allardyce said: "Bring it on, hey lads. I'm hardened over many, many years. You toughen yourself for whatever job you take. You take the good with the bad, otherwise you don't do it - don't bother.

"I am here because I want to be here, because I want the challenge, I'm here because I think I can make the team better and I think I'm tough enough to take it.

"People see me as being able to turn a club around very quickly and I suppose that comes with taking West Ham up, saving Blackburn Rovers and now saving Sunderland.

"I consider myself to be much more than that but that is the sort of label I've been left with. I can turn things around pretty quickly and get amongst teams to try to create a successful journey and a successful journey starts with all of us pulling together.

"I have managed world class players, Fernando Hierro, Youri Djorkaeff , Jay-Jay Okocha, Gary Speed, Nicolas Anelka, Michael Owen.

"The good thing about really talented players is they make your life easier. They know what you want and it takes you less time. Working with the England elite players is going to be exciting for me.

"When it comes to winning no trophies or cups, unfortunately as an English manager I never really got the chance to go right to the top of the Premier League. But look at what I've achieved over the years, like not being relegated, and they are big achievements, difficult to do.

"They don't hold the same category as winning the FA Cup, Capital One Cup or winning the league but it's very important today in the Premier League to secure a football club's financial status which is a difficult thing."

Allardyce was interviewed for the job in 2006 but lost out to Steve McClaren.

Since then he has managed Newcastle, Blackburn, West Ham and Sunderland and believes he is well equipped to take the England job.

He said: "I was good enough then. I don't know (why he did not get the job) perhaps it was political, I don't know. It's obviously different and much more streamlined with this development and site (St George's Park). It's much more forward thinking than it was in 2006.

"It was 10 years since I was last interviewed and to sit here is a huge thrill for me. I think I fit the chair, I hope I do.

"I think I've got the experience to challenge the England team and challenge myself. Managing five Premier League teams has given me huge experience."

Allardyce also said it was time players delivered on the international stage.

He added: "We have got to say it's not potential any more, it has to be reality now.

"Stand up and be counted, these young players have had a lot of experience. Even though some of that experience has been pretty bitter it can be a great help to make sure they don't feel like that again."

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